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D-158, teachers union reach tentative deal

HUNTLEY - District 158 and its teacher union reached a tentative contract agreement early Wednesday morning, only hours after the union called a formal impasse in negotiations.

Board member Kevin Gentry said the two sides met for nearly five hours, before concluding the meeting at 12:30 a.m. with a tentative deal. Gentry, who was present for the negotiations, said union leaders told the board about the impasse and offered to meet with them for an impromptu bargaining session Tuesday evening.

The tentative deal, Gentry said, is "different" from the agreement reached between the board and union leaders in early September, which Huntley Education Association members consequently rejected. Gentry would not disclose details, but said the new deal makes strides in addressing compensation concerns of teachers.

"I'm very optimistic that this tentative agreement will stick," he said.

HEA co-President Julie McLaughlin was not immediately available for comment Wednesday morning. HEA members are scheduled to vote on the agreement Monday, Nov. 19.

Moments before the Tuesday bargaining session, HEA formally declared an impasse in negotiations with the district board. The impasse allows teachers to strike after 28 days.

Gentry said he was feeling positive coming into the Tuesday meeting, since the union took proactive steps to notify the board of an impasse and offered to meet with board members.

This comes after union leaders criticized the board last week for canceling a meeting scheduled for the same day. The board called the cancellation a miscommunication between both sides.

The two sides have split over compensation since early September, with neither side disclosing specifics in negotiations, which started in the summer.

Nearly a month after HEA members rejected the first tentative deal in September, the more than 600 HEA teachers gave the union the authority to call a strike.

HEA teachers currently are being compensated under terms of a contract that expired in June.

Teachers went on strike for three days in September 2008 before agreeing to a contract that increased base salaries and retirement benefits.

Check back to www.NWHerald.com for updates.

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